Training helps Alzheimer’s caregivers

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Mon Aug 13, 9:02 AM ET

The findings are stunning: Offering simple training to people struggling to care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease not only eases their burden “” it even can keep patients out of nursing homes for an extra 1 1/2 years.
But the exciting research also runs headlong into a grim reality.

Alzheimer’s caregivers seldom can make time in their daily grind to seek out that kind of help.

And when they do, they too often find waiting lists for services, or programs geared only toward people with advanced disease and not the larger pool in the purgatory that is dementia’s decade-long middle ground between independence and helplessness.

That is one of Dolores Melnick’s biggest frustrations.

Her husband refused to enroll in the “day care” for Alzheimer’s patients near their Hainesport, N.J., home. It was hosting a singalong, and workers were setting up plastic bowling pins, too childish for Bob Melnick.

That meant no time for her to sneak off to a caregiver support group. On weekdays she worries about whether he’ll be OK because he’s home alone while she’s at work.

“I feel bad sometimes because he’s home. I feel bad that I have to leave in the mornings,” Mrs. Melnick says, eyes brimming with tears. “I think he realizes he can’t do much.”


More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. It afflicts one in eight people 65 and older, and nearly one in two people over 85.

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